Facing filibusters, Nebraska Legislature to debate rule changes

On Friday, Nebraska ACLU and OutNebraska held a rally in the Capitol against legislation that...
On Friday, Nebraska ACLU and OutNebraska held a rally in the Capitol against legislation that targets transgender community.(10/11 NOW)
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2023 at 12:11 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh said she’s looking for a new pair of shoes this weekend; she wants to be more comfortable digging her heels in and filibustering every day for the rest of the session.

“The leadership in this body has made it very clear that there’s nothing left for us,” Cavanaugh said. “All we have to do is to take a stand against hate.”

Cavanaugh and senators Megan Hunt and Jen Day said they’ll slow things down on the legislative floor, opposing bills they deem as hateful and anti-trans. Cavanaugh said she expects others to join her, but a proposed rule change, brought forth by Senator Steve Erdman, would narrow the opportunity for filibusters.

“That’s what this motion that Senator Erdman has brought, that’s going to be the heart of that debate,” said State Senator John Arch, the Speaker of the Legislature. “Where’s the balance between, ‘we need to move bills’ and yet, ‘we cannot silence the minority?’”

The rule change would allow the introduction of only one bracket motion per bill on each state of debate. That means opponents wouldn’t be able to keep filing motions, filling the allotted speaking time and then withdrawing them.

That’s something that happened during Thursday’s debate over the Let Them Grow Act. After the one bracket motion, filibusters would need to be based in the content of the bill, with things like amendments.

“Let’s not do the procedural thing,” Arch said. “Let’s debate the bill. and so that’s what it means. it doesn’t take away the ability to filibuster.”

Cavanaugh said neither the amended version of the Let Them Grow Act, which focuses only on surgical procedures, nor a rule change will steer her from her current course.

“Whether the rules change or the rules don’t change, you can expect the same thing from me,” Cavanaugh said. “I am going to slow everything down. because if they want to legislate hate, they’re going to have to prioritize legislating hate.”

Arch said discussion of this rule change will be first on the agenda next Tuesday. It will require 30 votes in favor to go forward.